If you recall, last week Uber Inc, partnered with DigitalGlobe, a satellite imaging company providing hig-resolution aerial imagery to companies such as Apple and Google. Uber’s plan for this move was to use the company’s satellite images to improve the Uber experience for passengers and drivers alike,
Now it would seem that the company is attempting to stand up by itself without help from the Google Maps API by investing approximately $500Million to create its own database of worldwide maps.
According to Brian McClendon, who was the co-founder and VP of Google Earth and is now a part of Uber, relying on a groundwork of existing maps is always a good starting point. But it doesn’t allow an in-depth level of detail that the company could make use of such as traffic patterns, pin point locations of passengers and destinations and/or other potential pickup locations. All this would be made possible with the tailor-made maps that would provide this level of detail.
It is rather obvious to state that in order for Uber to cater to their clients’ requirements, detailed maps are a vital necessity for their operations and its future. What future plans, you ask? Well that can be summed up it two words: autonomous vehicles. These driverless vehicles would rely heavily on maps to select the most adequate route for its passengers. Till then, despite the forthcoming investment by Uber, the company has hired former Google employees such as McClendon, acquired mapping companies, and has also forged partnerships with companies such as TomTom and DigitalGlobe.
According to news sources, Uber has also expanded their mapping efforts into Mexico. Indeed, this could be seen as the first step in their plan for a worldwide mapping project.
Given Google’s almost 10-year head start, Uber indeed does have their work cut out for them if they want to deploy their own fleet of autonomous vehicles alongside or before Google.